Blog hiatus

Just wanted to inform all my readers that there will be a two-week break on posting as my family travels to Japan. While I love posting, I think I’ll be concentrating on seeing all the sights and doing all the things I can while we take this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I’ll still be reading, though, so I’ll have lots of book reviews to catch up on when we get back. If you’re interested in following along on our trip, the whole family will be posting lots of pictures on Instagram. Follow us at Rutters_in_Japan. See you all when we get back!

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Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

Published: 1997

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 87 pages of story, but my book added an essay about the book by the author to get up to 102 pages

Setting: Cleveland, 1990s

Interest: It was recommended to me by a friend as a good read aloud. Continue reading

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What I Will Be Reading #25 – Middle Grade books

I’ve got some new books to add to my kids’ reading lists this time. First off are a couple of graphic novels. My kids LOVE graphic novels, so it’s a bonus when they can learn some science while reading (and rereading).

The Hub had a list of science graphic novels. Sadly, our library didn’t have many of the books (all of which looked wonderful). However, we do have a couple of the Howtoons graphic novels in the system. Specifically, Howtoons: The Possibilities Are Endless! and Howtoons: Tools of Mass Construction by Saul Griffith. The principle behind these books is to teach kids (targeted at ages 8-15) to take household items and build something cool from those items. Looks pretty cool! I hope the kids try one of the projects in the books.

Changing gears slightly (but sticking with The Hub for inspiration) is a memoir: Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir, about Stan Lee. The post was all about books to inspire teen writers. Mr. Curiosity would be interested in this title because he’s big into comics and especially the Marvel universe. Stan Lee is a character and a half, and was influential and creating many of the comic book characters we know and love today.

And finally, a couple of books for Miss Adventure from a post at Modern Mrs. Darcy about books for tween girls. Most of the books looked great (I’ve read several, including Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Making, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), but there were two I thought for sure Miss Adventure would like. The first book in the list, Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, caught my eye because it mentioned it had a Hogwarts feel to the story. Miss Adventure had read the Harry Potter series multiple times, so I’m sure something similar would be right up her alley. I also thought The Lemonade War (The Lemonade War Series) by Jacqueline Davies, sounded interesting. Real world math, sibling rivalry – sounds like an interesting combination.

Should be some good books to read as we’re finishing up the school year and looking for some summer reading. Anything else in the middle grade or YA sections I should introduce to my kids?

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Length: 328 pages

Setting: in and around Athoek Station, soon after the events of Ancillary Sword

Interest: It’s the third and final book in the very enjoyable Imperial Radch series Continue reading

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The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davis

Published: 2007

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 173 pages

Setting: a generic U.S. town, present day

Interest: I had seen it on a list of 12 terrific books for tween girls by The Modern Mrs. Darcy and thought Miss Adventure would enjoy the book. She like it so much, she convinced me to read it. Continue reading

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Rascal by Sterling North

Published: 1963

Genre: middle grade memoir/adventure (I don’t think its fiction)

Length: 192 pages

Setting: a small town in Wisconsin in 1917

Interest: I was looking for a relatively short audiobook for a gymnastics trip. I’d heard of the story and thought Miss Adventure would enjoy the animal story. Continue reading

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Short Stories by Dan Rabarts


Waking the Taniwha

Published: March 2013 in Wily Writers Audible Fiction

Genre: steampunk

Length: 13 pages

Setting: New Zealand, 1855

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Morgan Kent is a Royal Ethnographer in the British government, stationed in New Zealand. When the HMS Kestrel goes missing, Mister Faulkner is brought in to investigate. Kent is certain the Kestrel was destroyed by a taniwha, and he hopes to impress Faulkner with his skills and be invited into the Office of the Preternatural. It turns out, the ship was destroyed by a steam machine cobbled together by the Maori, but Kent gets his wish when he convinces a tohunga to briefly wake a taniwha and destroy the machine.

Final thoughts: I loved the setting of this story. It is your typical steam punk, set during the Victorian England era, with ornithopters and other gadgetry about. However, Rabarts interweaves Maori folklore in with the more traditional British characters to create something fresh and new.

Title comes from: The taniwha is a Maori supernatural creature who usually sleeps in deep places around the ocean. Kent was afraid a taniwha had woken and was destroying ships in the sea.

The Crooked Mile

BCS-cover-225x300Published: August, 2013 in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Genre: weird Western

Length: 17 pages

Setting: a random Western town, during the Wild West era

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Rosco is just the young deputy, but he’s in charge when the purported wizard killer rides into town. Rosco sends the man into the Crooked Mile to find the sheriff in order to collect his bounty. When the sheriffs horse comes wandering into town later that night, covered in blood, Rosco knows he has to go in after them. Rosco finds both the stranger and the sheriff, on opposite sides of a gun battle. Each tries to convince Rosco they are in the right and the other man is evil and should be killed. Ultimately, Rosco kills them both (for different reasons), taking on the mantle of sheriff.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed this story as well. Again, the setting had a strong influence on the story. Rosco seemed a bit simple, seeing the world in lawful and not, and both the stranger, the sheriff, and the evil creatures in the Crooked Mile tried to take advantage of that fact to sway Rosco to their side of the argument. While it seemed that the evil creatures won (since Rosco killed both men), Rosco realized what they were doing and killed the men for his own reasons (they had broken the law). Rosco was definitely in a tricky spot – both men said he was telling the truth and the other man was lying. Who do you believe in that case? Yourself.

If you’re interested in either story, you can read them online for free at the links provided.

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